Retail News Breaks
December sales rise at Walgreens, Rite Aid
January 7th, 2014
NEW YORK – Two of the nation’s top three drug chains reported healthy sales results for December 2013, benefiting from calendar day shifts that offset the impact of a milder flu season.
Walgreen Co. turned in a 7.2% gain in monthly sales to $7.20 billion, bringing the retailer’s total for the 2013 calendar year to $73.72 billion, up 4.5% from 2012’s $70.52 billion.
The December increase for Walgreens was driven by a 10.2% jump in total pharmacy sales, which accounted for 58.3% of the month’s top line.
On a comparable-store basis, sales rose 6.1%, reflecting a 1.7% benefit from day shifts (December 2013 had one additional Tuesday and one Saturday fewer than the prior-year month). Generic drug introductions over the course of 2013 shaved 0.7% from December’s comp-store sales.
Pharmacy comp-store results surged 9%, including a benefit of 290 basis points from calendar shifts that was partially offset by a negative impact of 120 basis points from generic drug introductions and 20 basis points from fewer flu shots year over year. All in all, the retailer calculates that the milder flu season trimmed total pharmacy sales by 40 basis points.
Calendar shifts provided an identical 2.9% boost to script count, which rose 5.3%. The milder flu season, which resulted in fewer flu shots being administered, trimmed 80 basis points from the month’s script count.
For its part, Rite Aid Corp. posted a 2.7% increase in total sales to $2.11 billion in December. Prescription sales accounted for 63.6% of Rite Aid’s top line. Comparable-store sales for the month advanced 2.9%, fueled by a 4.1% gain in pharmacy sales. New generic introductions trimmed about 102 basis points from comp-store pharmacy results.
Prescriptions dispensed at comparable stores fell 2%, again reflecting fewer flu-related scripts and flu shots.
At the front end, comp-store sales grew 1%.
The relatively strong sales performance by Rite Aid surprised investors and analysts, who had been dismayed by management’s cautious guidance two weeks ago, when executives cut their full-year sales forecast to a range of $25.3 billion to $25.42 billion. The company’s share price fell 10% in the wake of that announcement, and rebounded by more than 9% after December sales were unveiled.
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